Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Hi Avid fans, and a happy new year to you all.

2012 has been quite an eventful year for me in so many ways.
It started with the usual mundane work at Jewsons, long trailing days devoid of customers, my trusty friend mark to keep me sane and the infamous manager from hell to give us all something to marvel at as we spent our days in awe at the skill with which he demonstrated his total lack of business, management, customer care, administration and people skills.

On the home front, my Jollys with Mark were few and far between, money was tight and life was lived on a day to day basis. So all in all it wasn't an amazing start.

Things were to change as the year progressed. Our illustrious leader continued to dig himself an ever deeper hole while somehow managing to avoid falling into it "the one thing hes good at is bullshitting his way through life". Myself and Mark started training for the Keswick to Barrow 40 mile challenge, so most weekends were filled with walking again all be it on tarmac, a fact that proved unfavourable for my shagged knees, but it was necessary as the majority of the K2B is on tarmac and so we needed to accustom our feet to the unforgiving surface they were to endure.


The K2B date arrived and myself and mark both completed it with times we were both happy with and he proved once again he is a mate to be proud of, I myself don't actually remember the end with much clarity as I floated over the finish line on a cocktail of Ibuprofen Cocodamol and Paracetamol in copious amounts due to the excruciating pain in my right knee with the left almost as bad. 40 miles of tarmac in 13 hours of non stop pain.

Eventually the exploits of our leader from hell became to much to ignore and after after a heated discussion with sed tosser I found myself suspended on full pay pending an investigation as it was alleged that I had used threatening behaviour. Well if you call having a stand up row with your boss threatening behaviour then guilty as charged, but I wont be called a liar in front of customers to cover up his inability to do his job.
After an enquiry involving the top brass I was told things would be looked at very closely in future and changes would be made but they could no longer employ me as threatening behaviour constitutes gross misconduct. And I thought we were all big boys in the building trade, able to have a row and get on with our jobs!!!!
And so I walked out of the meeting no longer an employee of Jewsons. 14 hours later I started work at my new job, a considerable pay increase and no Saturday hours. Thanks Ian.

Once again life threw a spanner in the works "like is does" and with a little malicious help I found myself arrested and sleeping in a nice cell, only to be promptly released the following day. The good old boys in blue also saw fit to seize all my guns, but after three or four months of scrutinising serial numbers and documentation they were all returned to my door by two nice policemen in a police van with no action to be taken. Its nice being squeaky clean isn't it.

Some outdoor adventures were undertaken and at some stage I may even share the photos but for now this is all you get.

And here we are December 31st is soon a thing of the past.
My finances are in order. I work a 50 to 60 hour week but my weekends are free and I have some money in my pocket.
After having experienced some ups and downs I find myself free of legal issues and indeed the good old boys in blue are taking action by way of the "Malicious communications act" to prevent me experiencing any further problems from a certain person or persons.

2013 looms and I look forward to having the time to not only go on more adventures but to also start documenting them on here along with several new blog threads accompanied by video blogs.

Work is good.
Life is good.
I may have only a few friends, but that's by choice. And what good friends they are.

Happy New Year my friends and avid fans.
Jack x

Monday, 24 October 2011

Birkhouse moor.

Hi avid fans. Firstly I would like to introduce my intrepid partner in crime, Mark. As a work colleague we get to spend a lot of time together and for some unknown reason we also tend to spend time on weekends in each others company too. Perhaps its the similar sense of humour we share or the fact that one kind of knows what the other is on about and every one else has a look of confusion as we talk drivel. Whatever it is, we enjoy each others company and so have developed a walking partnership that works well and I have actually come to quite like him in the past few months! And no, we are not talking broke back mountain here OK! Lets go back to late August and the lead up to our first walk together. Mark had decided after a very long break form Fell walking that he wanted to get back into it. Having been a regular walker when he moved to Cumbria years ago he knew the score but was out of practice and to cut a long story short we arranged to do some walking together. I was quite comfortable with this idea as Mark is someone I like, trust and respect, so the first trip was eventually set for September the tenth. Well the famous saying "No plan survives the first contact intact" proved to be true but we soon came up with plan B and still had a good day out as you will see. Saturday September tenth, Mark turned up at my house 8.30AM as planed and we set off down the road heading for Glenridding pier on Ullswater. The idea was to take the steamer from Glenridding to Howtown and walk back to Glenridding via the footpath that follows the East shore of Ullswater. We arrived nice and early for the first sailing but it was blowing a bit despite the sunshine and as we walked from the car down to the pier the possibility of sailings being canceled due to wind did enter the conversation, the tickets were duly sold to us at the pier though and we waited to board our vessel. A few minutes later and surprise surprise! we were told, all sailings canceled due to wind. We got our refunds and trooped out of the pier kiosk with a bunch of other people all discussing what they might do instead. I look up to the West assessing the sky for what it might bring weather wise and Birkhouse moor is staring back down at me from the distance. The light bulb above my head flickers a little and then bursts into life. I have a cunning plan and share it with Mark who is up for it immediately, well OK after giving it a little thought maybe. We would walk up to the top of Helvellyn or as near to it as prudent considering the lack of preparation and the weather, so off we went on our new mission. We headed up Greenside road leaving Marks camera in the car as we passed it, Mark not having a waterproof camera bag for it, we were only experiencing intermittent showers at this point but the sky looked like it had lots more in store for us. The road gets narrower as you go up the hill and eventually turns into a track then a path and our first photo opportunity with my camera. We turn right and head up the right hand side of Birkhouse moor crags and stop to watch the marshal of a trials bike event standing solitary in the bracken like a unloved scarecrow dripping with rain, no bikes are to be seen on the stage but we can hear them in the distance and every now an then we catch a glimpse of a lone bike far off to the south. We press on as the rain starts to kick in at full pelt now. Sheffield pike looms to our right and Birkhouse moor to our left as we follow the path up to the bridge opposite the disused mine and take a pause to photograph the torrent of water coming down the Gill fed by red tarn beck, brown cove beck and keppel cove beck. Our walk continues round towards Glenridding common and follows red tarn beck to a height of about one thousand feet (Always sounds more impressive in feet don't it!) and we make a joint decision to turn back. No we are not doing our best impression of a big girls blouse!!!!! Rather we are being responsible adults making a sensible choice not to make an arse of ourselves by ending up catching a ride home in a big helicopter. The wind is blowing quite hard further up and the rain is coming down sideways at times, and seeing as mark is wearing jeans and I am relying on my now very wet Buffalo six shirt to keep warm we make a mature decision and do a one eighty. The visibility further up is looking less and less promising anyway and so we make our way back pleased with the days events considering it's not the low level walk we had planed or prepared for. On the way down the conversation takes as many twists and turns as the path we are walking on, we stop and see the marshal still soaking but now observing the trial section, and we marvel at the skill of the riders as they tackle obstacles with finesse and grace akin to a butterfly visiting flowers in a glade. OK so I'm taking the piss now, sorry. Eventually we make it back to Glenridding an decide to invade the cafe for a cup of coffee and a bit of cake. The lady that serves us doesn't even blink when we walk in dripping wet and plonk ourselves down with a squelch. The cake is Divine and the coffee goes down well too. A bit pricey but hey ho this is the lake district isn't it. We soon say our thanks and squelch back out of the door leaving puddles on the (fortunately) wooden chairs. On the drive home we decide it was a good day out regardless of the canceled sailing and the subsequent change of plan, the weather or the prices in the cafe and next week end will be just as good.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


Hi avid fans. I must apologise for not posting for such a long time. Starting a new life up here in Cumbria has been hard and has taken a lot of my time up, but now I'm finding a balance finally. Having restructured my priority's and commitments now that I am established up here, I can now find the time to do the things I enjoy and one of them is posting on my blog. My web site is one of the trimmed off items, but I'm planning to incorporate some of the content on here so although it may be gone its content will not be lost. The music player I had running on here has been trimmed off too as it was a pain to keep updating and to be honest I doubt if you liked my choice of music anyway. So, the future holds some kit reviews as previously planned along with regular posts on my outdoor forays. more photos an video. And at some stage I will be posting a thread on something I'm sure will drop some jaws,,,,,,, All in all life is sorted and I'm back on the Blog so keep your eyes pealed.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The dreams that haunt

It's just another bad nights sleep. Another recurring dream keeping me from forgetting the things I wish I could. To understand this one you have to know the events leading up to it. Maybe it wont make sense but here goes anyway. I'd been wondering what to do when I left the army and a friend of mine told me to go see a guy in Manchester. I went and was offered a job working for a security firm specialising in protection for company's and organisations working in high risk locations. Every now and then I would get a call asking if I wanted a few weeks work, kind of like being a temp but with much better pay and I took the job. I'd ended up working all over on for several different companies on this basis including west Africa, east Africa, the middle east, eastern Europe and south America. It was a way to make really good money doing something I enjoyed and knew I did well. The periods between this work were filled with the mundane day to day life back in England and as far as everyone else was concerned I was just a normal bloke with a seasonal job that went absent from time to time. But I longed for the phone calls and the adventure they would bring. I missed being sparked up and the rush of adrenalin when I was at home, I was frequently in a bad mood due to this and was only really happy on one of my outdoors adventures or when I was "away" working. Things changed a bit one September when I was stood in the Colombian jungle having done a CTR that had went loud and I was facing a scruffy flip-flop with an AK, I'd just given his mates the good news with a few short bursts and was about to brass him up with my XM177 on auto when I herd the dead mans click. Its the sound you never want to hear, its the sound that tells you you miscounted your rounds and the hammers fallen on a empty chamber. Not something that should happen with an XM177 as the bolt should lock back on an empty mag but these were very old weapons dating from the Vietnam era sourced from some guy in Bogota taking backhanders from the Colombian government, the firm that I was there with and the US operators that weren't officially there either. I yell "magazine" to let my mate Steve know I was out of rounds and changing mags, but I had miscounted rounds and he was still in the retreat part of our pairs fire manoeuvre as we wer trying to brake contact. I changed mag slick as shit and was cycling the bolt when I herd Steve open up behind me and the flip flop open up in front of me. Then I felt myself lifting off my feet and landing on my back, I stared up at the canopy of the rain forest and wondered where I was. then I felt the searing pain in my chest and realised I was not able to breathe. I herd Steve screaming at me as I fought for breath and as the mist of my confusion cleared I realised he was dragging me through the bush by the drag loop on my load vest and it was only cracked ribs and not holes in me that were killing so much. Thank fuck for body armour and Teflon plates, three AK rounds had hit me squarely in the chest. Steve got me out of the bush on his own and sorted a private clinic in Bogota for me. We spent a few weeks letting the dust settle as the company we wer working for decided we didn't exist and we couldn't fly anyway as all flights wer grounded due to the 9/11 attack on the world trade centre. Neither me or Steve ever worked for that firm again but i did work with Steve several times after that. The last time we worked together was the last time i did that kind of work. This is my dream and perhaps it will make sense now. It was just another job for me and my mate Steve, we knew and trusted each other well and could work as well oiled machine together in the most fluid of situations without passing a word. It was another CTR, this time in the Balkans, we both knew the consequences of things going tits up on this particular job as we wer on our own from drop off to pick up but it was paying well and we had both operated in the Balkans before, so we felt comfortable taking on the job. All was going well until we started swapping lead with a patrol on the exfil. After a very long exchange We wer pairs fire and about to brake contact when Steve dropped like a sack of shit and didn't move. I called to him but got no reply and increased the weight of fire I was putting down regardless of my ammo state while I moved to his position. He was in a bad way, one of the rounds he had took was in the belly. I had spent all my rounds and was using Steve's last mag in our defence when number five of the six man patrol went down, the last guy decided he wasn't playing on his own and legged it just as I ran out of ammo. Then I saw Steve had taken another hit and was loosing blood rapidly from the femoral artery, I started putting field dressings on but he reached out and stoped me. At first I didn't understand, then when I bent closer I herd his words faint and week. "they will be back, Go while you can". I told him to shut up and not to be so stupid but he griped my hand even tighter and sed "You and I both know you can get out if you go now, but I'm going nowhere". He was an experienced soldier and he knew he had no chance of surviving his injuries, if I tried to Carry him I would be carrying a dead man and probably get caught in the process, The guy that had leged it would soon return with more mates and we wer both out of rounds. We could hear voices shouting in the distance now and we both knew if I left on my own now I could slip into the night and ex filtrate to the pick up point 25 kilometers away. He looked me in the eyes and sed with a smile "fuck of Jack", The tears started to roll down my cheeks, I knew he was right but I couldn't leave him. Then he slapt me round the head with little more than a week pat and sed "don't be a silly cunt, just go", I said "OK" got to my feet and slipped off into the dark. I still hear his voice telling me to go and I know Steve had maybe a minute left if that, but the choice I made not to stay with him is hard to live with. Steve dragged me out of the rain forest at great risk to himself and was a very good friend, and I left him dying alone in a cold wet dark field in kosovo.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The dreams that haunt.

Avid fans. Its predictable. I can go to bed and know Whats coming, unable to avoid it, that makes it worse. In waking hours its quite manageable and usually due to a set of innocuous and peaceful circumstances that trigger a darker dejavue. At night It can be due to something stressful happening during my day, It can be due to being worried about something that's happening in my life at the time, and sometimes It just happens for no apparent reason. I wake up, sometimes shouting, nearly always soaked in sweat. There are Three and they always play the same way, like a DVD that skips back to the start of the scene each time it happens, Groundhog nights. Tonight was my least favorite. I'm at the bottom of whats known as the Anvil in central Bosnia. My patrol is approached by one of the locals who is quite distressed, she jabbers to our female interpreter at a hundred mile an hour and I don't have a clue whats being said as I had not learnt any serbocroat at that time, something I soon remedied. The interpreter briefly told me there is a problem with a Serb officer in a house who is armed and drunk. We made haste to the house only to find a crowd of nine or ten shouting people out side stood around a guy in a Serb officers uniform who was fairly well cut and swaying from side to side. I had already sized up the location on approach and took note of the Russian made Tokarev pistol in its holster on a wast belt slung low on his hip like some kind of John Wayne wannabe. I also noted The flap of the holster was unfastened and his hands wer waving all over as he gesticulated with the crowd. OK I thought to myself, so we got a pissed off pissed up armed flipflop surrounded by a bunch of men women and kids and this guy looks like hes loosing the plot, the areas secure, I got four of my lads stood behind me and orders to disarm any non NATO troops in the demilitarized zone who don't have a weapons card. I ask the interpreter to tell him I want to see his weapons card and as its relayed to him I step forward through the crowd with a disarming smile on my face. The guy says something to the interpreter who turns to me and politely repeats in English "he say to fuck off". The crowd went quiet. I ask her to tell him again that I need to see his weapons card or he will have to hand over his side arm, she tells him again but this time I'm not smiling at him. He looks me in the eye then without loosing eye contact with me he gives the interpreter a mouthful, she turns to me and looks worried now, "go on then what did he say" I ask her. "He say you can fuck your mother, this is his country, his village and he can do what he like". The crowd start to shout at him again, not really helping things, I'm not impressed by this reply and decide Mr nice guy has left the building. Taking the interpreter out of the loop I take another step forward closing to a distance of four or five feet and say in plain English to the twat "give me your weapon now" and point to his side arm knowing full well he probably understood English if not spoke it. He looked at me with utter contempt and said in slurd English "fuck you", one of the women stood next to him in the crowd started poking and pushing him as she jabberd on, and it was at this point that things got ugly. He drew his Tokarev and waved it about as he shouted back at the crowd. In a split second I ran through the options here, drunk, armed, lost the plot, safety of civilians, my own lads safety, Good safe backstop if,,,,,,, I bellow at the top of my voice "Stan eele putsam, ya sam voinik britanski" and draw the 9mm Browning HiPower service automatic from my vest holster,dropping my armed hand to my side but pushing the weapon down against my hip to cock it as I lower it. The 9mm a better choice as to unsling my 5.56mm sa80 assault rifle would take longer and the backstop was breezbloc house wall, the 5.56 rounds although smaller calibre wer of far higher power and would go through the wall like a red hot poker through butter hitting anyone inside the house. The guy was in a rage and ignoring me. One of the civvy blokes in the crowd tried to grab his Tok off him and failed, he pointed it in the air and let off a round then pointed it back at the crowd, amazingly they all started grabbing for it. I shouted my warning again, raising the nine mill slipping the safety off and placing the pad of my finger on the trigger. The Tokarev fired again and I squeezed. A neat hole appeared in the Serb officers forehead, just between the eyebrows and about an inch up. The wall behind him turned red and lumpy and he fell face down at my feet. Dead silence from every one now. I looked down and wondered where the back of this guys head had gone, there was a lot missing and I was sure more than was now on the wall, it must have vaporised as there was red mist spread all over the wall and the ground, people too. We distanced ourselves a little and called in the contact on the radio, and as we waited for instructions the woman who had started to poke and shove the Serb officer causing things to spiral wouldn't stop screaming at me hysterically. I asked the interpreter what the woman was saying, She replied "that was her husband you shoot and she want to know how she will look after children now". I don't care what the drama started over and never wanted to try and find out. The twat with the Tok! I don't give a shit, he left me no choice. But that woman's face screaming at me, full of pain anger and hate, that will never go away.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Peak district trip, part two,,,,,,,,,,,

Hi again avid fans, mission report continues; The dawn was preceded by a chorus from the birds in the trees, that's what woke me. I found a heavy frost covering everything, including my bangers, (that's my mustache). The fire had not long burned out and the last of the embers were glowing gently in the half light of dawn. I had slept really well an not felt cold at all in the night but crawling out of my cocoon was A bit of an effort, I fought off the urge to snuggle up an sleep some more and I put on some layers an my boots. The fire took a little bit of coaxing but eventually I got the embers to take some fresh fuel and I had a small fire going again. Breakfast was a tin of smart price sausage an beans and two mugs of sweet black coffee, then I packed away my sleeping bag Bivvy bag an roll mat. I walked down to the waters edge through the trees an had a very fast strip wash, that woke me up proper! then I went back to my camp an warmed by the small fire. The Basha was taken down an folded carefully so it would go up in the dark again with out any dramas and I put what was left of the fire out. By now the sun was up and it was warming a little. I checked over the camp area making sure I had packed away every thing, then put the empty tin and the dead snap light into the bag containing last nights tins an put it next to my Bergen. I dug a whole where the seat of the fire was, took a dump in it then covered it with the dead ashen remains of the fire, just to make sure I finally pissed on it an covered it over with the dug earth tramping it down with my boots. I scattered the dead leaf litter about an stood back to check my handy work, It looked like no one had been here, no fire, no camp site, no rubbish left behind, no trace of my visit and that was the way I wanted it. I was after all wild camping in the national trust park and only about a hundred meters from a main pathway. I slung my Bergen on, picked up the rubbish bag and started walking. After walking back to the dam and putting my rubbish bag in the bin I took out my camera screwed on the mini tripod an walked to a spot where I thought would be good for a few photos. The dam has some history to it and I switched on the camera. Nothing. I switched it off then back on again. Still nothing. I thought back to when I had used it last, it was a long time ago and I hadn't made sure it was charged up before I set off on this jolly. My heart sank and I was pissed off with myself for not being more methodical in my planning but that's life, I had dropped a bolock and that was that. I unscrewed the tripod and put it and the camera away quietly. The dam, as I mentioned it has some history to it, most notably for me it was used by the dam busters during the second world war to practice using there distance measuring bomb sight. For those of you who don't know the story they used the towers of the dam along with the special V shaped sight to get the distance from the dam wall just right so when the Bouncing bomb was released it would take a few skips then hit the wall and sink blowing the dam from the base under water, it was a simple V shape hand held device and when the hole at the base of the V lined up with the pins at the ends of the V and the dams towers they knew they were the correct distance, also used was a clever but simple height gauge consisting of two spot lights on the fuselage of the Lancaster bombers turned slightly towards each other, when the two spots of light met they knew they were at the correct height to get the bomb to skip. OK so I'm boring you now, but its interesting stuff to me honest. Anyway the dam busters mission was a success and although they took heavy casualties they blew the Ruer valley dams in Germany causing massive damage to the German war effort by flooding the factories and causing widespread power failures. Barns Wallace at first thought mad for his plan of a bouncing bomb was hailed a genius, by the way he tested the bombs bouncing ability in the Wash not far from me and the actual dam busters were also stationed in Lincolnshire not far from Woodhall Spa, also not far from me. so there you go, that's my history lesson over. I walked the base of the dam wishing my camera was working, wondering what it would be like to see a couple of Lanc's blasting up the valley, I bet it would have been an impressive sight. Then I started off up the east side of Derwent reservoir taking my time and enjoying myself. By lunch time i had walked all the way round the top through the woods and back down to the dam on the west side. It was a relly nice walk but I felt like a change so I set off to the south west through the woods. It was relly steep in places but eventually I cleared the woods an got a great view of the area to the south an west and down the pass to the north, the A57 winding down the pass and out of sight like a snake giving this road its name (snake pass). I pushed on cross country heading downhill now and eventually got to the A57 just north of the Snake pass inn, I crossed the road and on the south side picked up the stream that feeds the Ladybower reservoir. I followed it on the south side till it opened up into the res, then followed the south shore of the res for a while. After about three an a half K I decided to set up camp for the day and headed uphill south through the trees and after bimbling around for a while in the woods found a nice spot not to far from the water but well out of site and secluded enough to set up camp in daylight. I started by collecting dead wood from the ground setting it in a big pile, then started on the shelter, it was a bit more elaborate than the night before using the dead wood to make an a frame shelter bound together with withys an then covered with the Basha sheet to waterproof it. the floor was covered with leaf litter to a depth of about six inches giving plenty of insulation. then I took my sleeping bag out of the bivvy bag an spread it an the ridge rest in the shelter, looking good so far I thought it was time for a little RnR so after lighting a small fire and making sure it was safe to leave I went down through the trees to the water an striped off naked. The water was freezing cold but I wasn't bothered as I had left the fire going to warm up with after my swim. I messed about in the water for a little while and then got out shivering, gathered my clothes and went back up through the woods to my camp. I stoked up the fire to a fair old blaze and felt so good with myself I actually danced around it naked till I was exhausted. After putting on my clothes an boots I started tea, It was boil in the bag rice and a tin of smart price chili con carnet made in my mug on the fire with the last of the water from my water bottles. after tea I went back down to the waters edge an washed my mug and racing spoon properly with a scotch pad and filled my water bottles up with res water filtering the particles out of the water with a bit of stocking over the mouth of the bottles as they filled, this keeps the chunks out of the water but to make it truly drinkable I put water puritabs in the bottles for the stuff you cant see that makes you sick. I spent the evening watching the fire while sipping at a pocket size bottle of dark rum, the shelter was warm an dry my heart was happy and I was at home in the middle of nowhere. At some stage I must have fallen asleep tucked up in my sleeping bag watching the fire cos when I woke the fire was long dead and the birds were just starting, it was still pitch black and I turned over snuggled down an went back to sleep. When I woke again it was about ten in the morning. I crawled out of my pit an looked at the dead fire, it wasn't worth lighting up from scratch just for breakfast so I cheated an got my sigg fire jet stove out and within minutes I was eating tined beans n sausage (smart price of course) and drinking sweet black coffee. I packed up camp in the usual way an gave the area the once over, again no trace I had stayed the night so Slinging my Bergen on my back and bag of rubbish in hand I set off by half eleven. Continuing round the south of the res heading east I crossed below the southern most dam of Ladybower on the footpath and walked into Ashopton dumping my rubbish in a bin on the road near the boats moored up. It was just a short walk up to the 57 again from here and after a while I got a lift into Sheffield and from there another to Lincoln and one from lincoln back to Boston. It was late in the evening and I was worn out but really pleased with myself. The whole trip cost in total five tins of smart price best, a bag of rice, some coffee and sugar, two cotton wool balls, Maybe half a cup of petrol for the sigg fire jet, a couple of puritabs and a small bottle of rum. Oh yea and a sense of adventure. Cost in £s maybe £12. Pleasure value, priceless. I had A great time and would like to thank the five people that kindly gave me lifts to get there an back, they know who they are. And I'm looking forward to doing something like it again soon. Note to self, must charge camera next time :(

Peak district trip, part one,,,,,,,,,,,

Hi avid fans, Well, I feel so refreshed. The trip I been wanting to go on for so long now was great. I got a lift to Sheffield, then another to the snake pass (A 57 far side of Sheffield)an got dropped of at Ashopton. That took best part of the day. It was getting near sunset so I tabbed it to the Ladybower dam up the west side of the reservoir just before dark. I had kind of planned to be there earlier but as usual no plan survives first contact so flexiplan kicked in an i crossed just below the dam from west to east in the gloom. I could have went up the east side of Ladybower res from Ashopton but the terrain is a bit tougher that side until you get half way up so I had chose the west side as its tarmac all the way up an faster going even though slightly further. I had wanted to find a mine entrance I knew of before dark and make it first camp but the sun succumbed to gravity faster than my legs could carry me an I knew I would never find it in the dark. I walked north up the east side of Derwent res, the sun had gone completely and I had the area to myself until maybe six or seven in the morning when the first mountain bikers an the bobble hat brigade start to venture out of there warm beds an go explore. After about 750m the map shows the woods spread back from the waters edge in a triangle shape an spread up the hillside a ways an I decided this would make a good spot to make camp as I could get further from the path here. It was dark but I set off through the woods for the tip of the triangle, I had paced it out from the dam an using my map and a quick calculation I had hit my target dead on with a big grin on my face. I dumped my Bergen on the ground an sat on it for a few minutes just tuning into my surroundings, total silence fell on me, the birds had settled down for the night in the trees, there was no wind to speak of and the road was a long way off. I felt at home in my surroundings and could have sat for ages but for the cold starting to seep into my bones. I had been careful to not break into a sweat on the way from the road as sweat and cold mixed together can be a death sentence, but I could still freeze if I just sat there. I stood up and reached into the lid pocket of my Bergen an pulled out a green snap light, I snapped it an gave it a shake, the green light glowing like a beacon in the dark. The last thing I needed was to lose my Bergen in the dark but with the snap light sitting on it glowing away I felt happy leaving it while I went on a wood reccy so off I went into the darkness with a petzl tika head light on red filter, there was plenty of dead wood on the ground but most of it was damp. After about five minutes I had a big armful of damp ish fuel so I made my way back to my glowing Bergen beacon in the darkness. I scraped away the leaf litter on the ground with my boot then dug with my heel a shallow trough, I got my knife out an made some feather sticks with the driest of the wood, then chopped up some kindling, next I got out my film tub containing cotton wool balls soaked in petroleum jelly. I built the fire base up over the shallow trough in the usual manner then with two good strikes of my fire steel on the back of the knife blade The cotton ball was lit an added to the driest of the leaf litter, it smoldered then with a little coaxing it too was lit an put in the trough, a little more coaxing an the feather sticks above caught, then the kindling, an the fire was established. I opened the lid of my Bergen an pulled out my issue Basha, it has the cord already attached for setting it up so it only took a few minutes to string it up in the dark between two trees and after another minute I had some pegs fashioned out of sticks using my knife an I pegged down the back edge of the Basha making a nice cosy shelter. The fire was just to the front of it and at a safe distance but close enough to warm the shelter. The Basha also acts to some extent as a heat reflector and if it rained I would stay dry through the night. Next on the job list after tending the fire a little more was to pile a load of leaf litter in the Basha, spread it out even and unroll my Ridgerest mat onto it, this would insulate me from the ground. Then I pulled out my Bivvy bag with sleeping bag already in side it. I felt quite at home with this setup as I have stayed warm using this arrangement many times while in the forces, the coldest probably being in the Dinaric alps of Bosnia during a winter blizzard, -20c with wind chill -55c, that was cold so a few nights in the Peaks this time of year held no fear for me. So home was set up. I decided next was some grub, so I dug out a tin of chicken an veg curry an a tin of new potatoes (asda smart price of course), I raked the fire to one side a bit leaving some hot embers, dented the side of both tins on my knee an sat them on the hot embers an left them to cook. Then I got out my alloy water bottle mug, filled it from one of my 58 patt water bottles an set it on the embers too. It was getting colder but the fire was keeping me quite warm what with the heat reflecting off my Basha and although the breeze was picking up a little I had the forethought to set up camp so the Basha was acting as a wind break too, the smoke was blowing away from me an all was well in my new home for the night. I just sat there in silence listening to the crackle of the small but efficient fire, watching the flames lick up into the darkness like man has been doing for thousands of years. The water boiled in my mug so I put my glove on an pulled it from the fire, made my brew of black sweet coffee an sat some more. Then the dent in the first can started to ease out so I removed it from the fire before the can could burst along with the second can, I let them stand a few minutes while I finished my brew then I opened them both using my Swiss army knife from my belt, making sure the tops wer facing away from me as I pierced them, A brief jet of hot fluid and then they wer safe to open all the way. I put the contents of both cans into my mug an mashed it all up with my racing spoon and got stuck in. When I had let my supper (tasty yum yum) settle a little I made another brew and swilled it about the mug to wash it out as I drank, then it was time for bed. I packed away all the kit I had used an put the two tins in a bag an tied the neck before putting that also back into my Bergen, Leave no trace. The last thing I did was extend the fire fuel along the ground parallel to my bed area using the dampest of the fuel, the idea is during the night the fire drys out the fuel slowly from one end to the other and hopefully keeps you warm all night. I checked the distance from my Basha and the amount of fuel spread and was happy I wasn't going to burn my self up in the night. I took off my boots and striped down to my thermals, putting all my striped clothing into my coat an rolling it into a pillow, my fag tin an lighter went into the inside pocket of my sleeping bag and out of the same pocket came my woolly hat to keep my head warm in the night. Finally my Bergen stashed under the end of the Basha at my head and I crawled into my bed for the night. As I lay there smoking a roll up I pondered the days events an decided I was happy with them, after all here I was, snugged up warm with a full belly watching a fire burn away slowly and in total control of my life again. I puffed away at my fag then threw the but into the fire and just lay watching the flames till my eyes slowly fell shut. TBC.

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Mission,,,,,,

Dear avid fans. I have come to the conclusion that money or not I just have to go on a jolly. How will you fund it I hear you all cry in unison, Well, I have boots an a thumb, oh yes and a sense of adventure. (don't forget sense of adventure) The plan is to get to the peak district with my 75L karrimore sabre Bergen on my back an just have fun. Simple as that really. OK, well maybe its not but how hard can it be, thumb it there, wild camp in quiet spots, eat boiled rice using my sigg fire jet stove, take photos with my camera, and just explore a bit. Cool, so that's that then. I like the simple things in life and I'm not to keen on making things overly complicated, can you tell, lol. So watch this space, photos imminent.

Monday, 15 February 2010

1st blog,,,,,,,,,

Dear avid fans,,,,,,, note to self, must get fans. No new adventures as yet I'm afraid, but loosely planing a trip as soon as funds allow. Not sure what or where yet as I'm still toying with a few temptations. It might even involve hills or lakes. The main thing is that I get out doors again, I have been missing the wind on my face and the fresh air in my lungs for so long now. The past 2 years have been really hard having had my wife shack up with her boyfriend in a new house, having to rent out the family home to pay the mortgage and making myself homeless in the process just to keep things from going pop. During that time I also lost my job and have been dealing with the debts my wife left me as a surprise leaving present, but like I always say "the mission isn't over till your heart stops beating", well it looks like now the house has finally sold and we have came to some kind of agreement over money an debts, that I might actually have a little money to sort myself out with, little being the operative word there. But I'm determined to get out and enjoy life again. The plan is to get back into the things that don't cost much that I gave up years ago to be a good hubby an dad, stuff like walking, climbing, caving, wild camping, driving green lanes, and floating about in a Canadian canoe with a rod. There is off course lots of other things I miss but they will have to Waite as things like skydiving, scuba diving, sailing, and comp off road driving all cost money that I just don't see myself having spare in the foreseeable future. Well, Rome wasn't built in a day, but slowly slowly catch monkey eh! I think the coming adventure will have to be something along the lines of a bit of walking and wild camping, maybe with a bit of bush craft thrown in just for fun, did I mention I used to teach survival skills among other things in the past? No, perhaps not but I miss the primeval joy of catching my own supper, cooking it on a fire I made myself and sleeping in a shelter made from natural resource's that's warm dry an comfy with a belly full of food. It takes me to a place where I feel in control again, you might think me mad but the cave man in me is screaming to be let out and I intend to submit to him. Instinct is a strength we as a modern society have attempted to dilute and over ride in the name of technology and progress, but my desire to be outdoors in all weathers is burning away in me. OK, so I have been rambling on a bit here, but its a start and I feel it helps to get it off my chest. It's also a bit of a preface to the blog that I will write in the future, even if there is nobody reading it.